In 1963, the Kennedy Community Mental Health Act was signed, providing federal funding for community mental health centers.
Thirteen years earlier, Lawrence community leaders established the Bert Nash Clinic, to continue the work started by the late Dr. Bert Nash.
Since it was founded in 1950, the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center as it was later renamed has stood out as a leader in providing mental health services.
That trend continues with the Bert Nash Center becoming the first 501c3 nonprofit not only in Kansas but in the nation to receive full state designation as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC), without the benefit of funding through a SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) grant.
“The moment we have been waiting for is here. After more than 18 months of dedicated work, and tireless effort, the Bert Nash Center has achieved full CCBHC Certification,” CEO Patrick Schmitz said.
The Center received notification on Friday.
“Congratulations on your well-deserved accomplishment of receiving full certification as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic by the State of Kansas,” the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services said in its notification email.
A celebration breakfast for staff is planned for October 27. Laura Howard, Secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, and Kathleen Sebelius, former Secretary of Health and Human Services, will speak.
Becoming a fully certified CCBHC took a total team effort.
“The effort has been Center-wide, making significant changes in how we provide services,” said Marsha Page-White, Senior Director of Innovation and Implementation, who spearheaded the CCBHC certification process. “Our agency did a phenomenal job of really leaning into this and doing the work.”
CCBHC is a model built on a three-pillar foundation of integrated care, sustainable funding, and outcomes. The focus of care is on the whole person. The goals of the CCBHC program are to: Increase access to community-based mental health and substance use disorder services, particularly to under-served communities.
In April 2021, Gov. Laura Kelly signed a bill establishing the CCBHC model for providing behavioral health services in Kansas. The signing made Kansas the first state to pass legislation adopting the CCBHC model statewide. Eventually, it is expected that all 26 community mental health centers in the state will make the transition to the CCBHC model, going from provisional to full certification by 2025.
“The state made the commitment, that was big,” Page-White said. “This is really a statewide effort.”
Making the CCBHC accomplishment even more impressive is that the Bert Nash Center also undertook another major initiative — CARF accreditation – around the same time it began working on CCBHC certification, all while coming out of a pandemic. The Center achieved a three-year accreditation from CARF — the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities in April 2022.
“As we started building programs to fit what the CCBHC model calls for, CARF really positioned us well to be able to meet those criteria,” Page-White said.
The Bert Nash Center was provisionally certified as a CCBHC in July 2022. In December, there was a baseline review which then led to a four-day certification visit in August. Following those reviews, the Center has achieved fully certified CCBHC status.
“As we move forward, the CCBHC model will continue to transform mental health care in our community,” Page-White said. “I’m just really proud to be part of an agency that tackled two huge initiatives in one year and has been very successful with both. The bottom line is that people will get better services because of CCBHC.”